Australian police drop terror probe against Haneef

August 29th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 29 (IANS) The Australian Federal Police Friday dropped investigations in the botched up terror case against Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef that has caused it much embarrassment for over a year and cost the tax payer millions of dollars. In a statement, police said it had advised Haneef’s solicitor Rod Hodgson that it had recently informed Attorney General Robert McClelland and Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus that Haneef “is no longer a person of interest”. Haneef was a registrar at the Gold Coast hospital in Queensland.

“The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has concluded its active inquiries, although some long-standing overseas inquiries are yet to be fully resolved. At the present time, there is insufficient evidence to institute proceedings against Haneef for any criminal offence,” the AFP statement said.

The police investigation has cost a whopping A$7.5 million to taxpayers for a case that strained India-Australia bilateral relations, caused the 240,000-strong Indian Australian community much grief and earned Australia and the former John Howard government bad press not only at home and in India, but across the world.

Haneef, now 28, was incarcerated in Australia for three weeks last July after being charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

The charges were later dropped and Haneef returned to his family in Bangalore July 29 last year. Every day in last July, as the drama unfolded in the media, a new leak, a fresh faux pas, another denial, caused the Haneef case to slip into a shambles.

Lawyers, civil liberty groups and many in the wider Australian community were aghast at the twists and turns in the case.

The series of events - from the arrest of Haneef at Brisbane International airport on July 2, 2007, until his release from detention and return home to Bangalore on July 29 last year - is currently being investigated by the John Clarke inquiry, which is expected to report its findings to the federal government by Sep 30.

Haneef’s solicitor Hodgson told The Australian newspaper that he had spoken to his client today, who was extremely happy with the news but he was unable to say whether Haneef wanted compensation or would return to work in Australia.

Haneef’s work visa was reinstated last December by the new Labour Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

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